By Zac Ellis
NASHVILLE –Mo Hasan was a freshman quarterback at Syracuse when, one afternoon, he found himself chatting with a chef at the Orange’s football training table. During that conversation, Hasan was hit with a sobering reality.
“He started talking to me about how much food they waste,” Hasan said. “I started looking into it, and it turns out 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted. In my hometown of Miami, there’s a huge problem with hunger and homeless. I thought to myself, this doesn’t make sense.”
Earlier this spring, Hasan decided to do something about it. He started a nonprofit based in Miami called Second Spoon that distributes unused food from local restaurants, all from a food truck. The truck allows Second Spoon to mobilize to different corners of Miami in search of those suffering from hunger.
On Tuesday, Hasan, who transferred to Vanderbilt this summer after a year at Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College, will venture to Cambridge, Mass. for the U.S. Food Waste Summit 2018 at Harvard University. Hasan said he hopes to network and learn more about an issue that hits home to him.
“I just want to learn as much as I can, because these are people who have been around this issue for much longer than I have,” Hasan said.
Prior to launching Second Spoon, Hasan began researching food waste in America and was taken aback at his findings. Americans throw out $150 billion worth of food each year. Moreover, food waste produces an estimated 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Those facts forced Hasan to spark change in Miami. He organized a successful fundraiser that allowed Second Spoon to purchase a food truck. Along with volunteers, Hasan then began cold-calling restaurants in the Miami area, asking to recover unused food. The group now receives unused food from up to six local restaurants on a given week and distributes to different parts of the city.
According to Second Spoon, the U.S. would save an estimated $50 billion by reducing food waste by 20-50 percent. That’s Hasan’s goal moving forward as he continues to grow Second Spoon in his hometown.
“We’ve got a ton of volunteers back home carrying it out, and the response has been amazing,” said Hasan. “It’s been a really humbling experience. Aside from the morality of the issue, it’s also a really big economic issue in this country. The amount of food waste produced by the United States is unbelievable.”
More information about Second Spoon can be found on its website, SecondSpoon.org, and its Instagram page.
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.